Valentine’s Day: A good day to fall in love, or not …
Nothing ruins Valentine’s Day like being happily in love. In seventh grade, I broke up with David K., and almost immediately afterward he started going out with my best friend, Sue H. When he gave her a red carnation and a heart-shaped box of Russell Stover assorted chocolates in the cafeteria on Valentine’s Day, I jealously realized I had made the biggest mistake in all of my 12 years. So, I locked myself in my room for days and played the Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin song “Separate Lives” from the White Nights soundtrack over and over while poring through the cards and notes he had given me over the course of our very serious 11-week relationship.
When I was in ninth grade, Valentine’s Day fell over winter break. My boyfriend Ted B. gave me a red envelope on the last day of school before the break and instructed me not to open it until Feb. 14. (I knew he meant business because he underlined the instructions four times.) While on vacation with my family, I dutifully waited until Valentine’s morning to read and re-read the card in which he lovingly asked to be mine. I spent the rest of that day listening to a mix of Journey songs on my Walkman, feeling a big void in my heart. (Deep sigh.) There was the time my sophomore year in high school when I kissed my good friend Alyssa M.’s boyfriend, Jared H., who also happened to be the best friend of my boyfriend at the time, Jared L. When he heard the news, Jared L. immediately dumped me. Coincidentally, that was the exact moment I realized he was probably definitely Mr. Right and I had blown my chance forever with my One True Love. I begged his forgiveness, but he would have none of it. Or me.I spent a lot of time weeping and cradling a piece of string from Jared L.’s green sweater that had brushed off on my sweatshirt when we bumped into each other in the hall at school. (However, in my own odd defense, my dad has always said I had a habit of saving pieces of string and – for some reason – receipts.) I passed that Valentine’s Day listening to 38 Special’s “Second Chance” until the grooves in the 45 wore out. I also became the real-life embodiment of the Police song “Every Breath You Take,” obsessively pining for Jared L., who, even after I made endless hang-up phone calls to his house, failed to realize how we were totally meant for each other.
Then there was a boyfriend in college who took me out to dinner on Valentine’s Day, cupped my hands in his, gazed in my eyes and murmured, “Ever realize that Cupid rhymes with stupid?” A year to the date later, after the dinner at which he wished me a “Happy VD day,” I discovered the therapeutic pleasure of listening to the J. Geils Band classic, “Love Stinks.” Three years ago I started falling in love with my now-husband Rick soon after he asked if he could take me out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, which was just two weeks after we started dating. I accepted, but only under the condition my parents could join us since they would be in town that weekend. He happily agreed, and then sent me a colorful bouquet of Gerber daisies the day before, declaring in the card that Valentine’s Day was overrated and we should celebrate Friday the 13th instead.At the same time that he won me over with his humor-laced sentimentality, Rick totally spoiled Valentine’s Day for me. After all, it’s sort of fun in a melodramatic kind of way to feel a little sorry for yourself on Valentine’s Day when the only card you get is from your mom, and sometimes she signs the dog’s name on it to be cute. Or, like something that should be straight out of a Molly Ringwald or John Cusack movie from the ’80s, you feel at once depressed and empowered when friends declare they’ll be your Valentine and send cards with messages inside that are somewhere between Rosie O’Donnell and Alanis Morissette on a man-hating scale.Still, the monthly women’s magazines with the Valentine themes, the heart decorations hanging from pharmacy and supermarket ceilings, the dish of Sweetheart candies on a co-workers desk and the back-to-back diamond-ring TV commercials all seem to secretly count for so much until the day you actually get the chocolates, the candlelit dinner, the slow dance and the ring and discover that it’s actually just the person, not the stuff he buys or the grand gestures he makes, who means the most.
I guess Hallmark is just going to have to find another holiday to suck me into. Shoot. … Groundhog Day was last week, wasn’t it? Aspen resident Meredith C. Carroll writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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